Cruise editor Donna Tunney is on a preview cruise for Oceania’s new ship, the Riviera. Her first dispatch follows.
Top-producing agents and other VIPs this week are getting their first look at Oceania Cruises’ Riviera, which will be christened in Barcelona on Friday, May 11.
And the 1,250-passenger Riviera, a sister to the Marina (a ship that launched last year) is getting a thumbs-up from the retailers on board.
Those who aren’t distracted by the ship’s gleaming marble floors, its French-designed grand staircase or its stylish furnishings must be noticing its multimillion-dollar art collection.
Most of the works were hand-selected, and in some cases commissioned, by the executives at Oceania and its parent company, Prestige Cruise Holdings. More than 100 of them are by prominent Latin American artists, including those who participated in Cuba’s vanguard movement in the early to mid- 20th century, Oceania said.
The ship’s artwork helps to make the Riviera unique, but other elements of the vessel also are first-rate, according to my own impressions and to every agent I’ve spoken with onboard.
As Janet Scraper, who operates Fort Lauderdale-based Arrow Discovery Travel (an affiliate of Travel Planners International), put it: “I am loving this ship. Just loving it."
She’d been onboard the Marina for a lunch event and tour last year, but this is her first time sailing with Oceania. She’s impressed, and so are the other agents I’ve bumped into in elevators or at a lunch table or in a hallway.
Oceania executives know it; they’re grinning ear to ear.
Frank Del Rio, chairman and CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings, told a media group on Sunday that he couldn’t be happier with the finished product.
“Seriously, I keep walking around the ship looking for something that isn’t right. I haven’t been able to find it,” he said. “Look for yourselves. It will be a challenge."
Aesthetically, it’s a beautiful vessel that shows meticulous planning and attention to detail. And while Oceania is an “upper-premium” line, the Riviera’s personable, competent staff is exhibiting a level of service that reminds me of a cruise some years back on a line that was firmly in the "ultra-luxury" camp.
The christening cruise left Monaco on Sunday, and calls at Marseille, France, and Valenica, Spain, before arriving in Barcelona on Thursday.
Celebrity chef Cat Cora will christen the ship in Barcelona, and the vessel will continue its christening cruise to Venice. It will operate a 10-day inaugural voyage on May 16 from Venice to Athens before starting a series of 12 European itineraries on 20 departures through late November.